We all have our story of how we decided to get out the first instrument. For me, after a month of doing nothing during school break I got up from my bed and thought “hey, you know what would be a good idea and completely empty out my savings? Buying a musical instrument”. And that is how I started looking for where to get in on the music action. First, I thought about guitars, a pretty obvious choice. After crunching numbers (and by crunching numbers I mean the dried out $5 bills from my summer job) I realized I would go for something less expensive. That’s when my journey to ukuleles started. So if you are struggling with finding an instrument that is in your price range and is not a triangle, I completely understand you. With that in mind, you should also consider how dedicated you think you will be to this hobby (or future profession?). Are you just gonna play around with it a month or two and then forget about it, OR are you planning on dedicating years to mastering the art? In case you want something for a long term but still beginner-friendly, Oscar Schmidt OU52 might be a good starting point. Let’s talk a bit about why it is worth your money.
The OU52 is a low budget ukulele so if you are expecting solid tonewood with real bone nut and all the usual business that come with expensive ukes, you will be disappointed. But if you have your expectations pretty well adjusted and you are looking for a first uke, not the best uke, then this might be a good option for you. Oscar Schmidt used a laminated mahogany body with mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard. While the laminated wood might not be the best it definitely does not underperform in this case. The fretboard is probably my biggest concern. The frets edges are pretty sharp making it hard for the player to slide a hand up and down the board. This problem can be fixed by just sanding the fret edges down or you can take the uke to a shop and they will do it for you. Of course, that means extra expenses but with cheaper instruments, you should always budget for maintenance and stuff like that. In the end, you will still have spent less on this uke, including the sanding and other issues you might have, than if you got an over $100 uke.
When it comes to hardware, the OU52 is equipped with chrome tuners that hold the tune pretty well. That was sort of unexpected for me. Pretty much every player who buys ukes in a lower price range complains that they have to retune the instrument constantly. While that is just an issue that every instrument has during the break-in period, some ukes just go out of tune after five minutes. With the OU52 you won’t have to do that. The rosewood bridge is also pretty good quality and allows for nice projection while the action is pretty damn perfect that allows for better tone and improved playability.
If you are a guitar player who just decided to test their skills in ukuleles, the baritone is the way to go. Most baritones are very comfortable in guitar player’s hands. Apart from that, baritone has a big sound unlike most sopranos. Great volume definitely does not take away from the intricacies of the balanced tone. While you will not mistake the OU52 for a $1000 uke, sound-wise, it definitely holds a proud spot among the best baritone ukuleles for beginners. There is some problem with buzzing which is fixable. Maybe, to fully understand the capabilities of this uke change the strings. All in all, the action, playability and overall sound do not disappoint.
Oscar Schmidt is big on making guitars and their expertise does “pour over” into their ukuleles. The OU52 model is a testament to that. As a complete novice or someone who has experience with guitars, Oscar Schmidt OU52 Baritone Ukulele is an amazing starting point. With nice volume, rich tone and playability (after you sand down those sharp fret edges) this is a winning uke in its price range.